Did you know that heel spurs will affect up to 15% of people during their lifetimes? Although not always painful, heel spurs are very common — especially if you’re a runner, athlete, or have plantar fasciitis.
When you have a heel spur that bothers you, you may feel the urge to touch or knead the area gently. This is because many people have the intuitive sense that massage can soothe pain. But is foot massage good for heel spurs?
Below, this post breaks down everything you should know about whether or not massage can help with heel spurs.
What Are Heel Spurs?
Heel spurs are calcium deposits that poke out from the underside of your foot. Typically, the growth occurs next to where your thick foot ligament — the plantar fascia — connects to your heel bone.
These little bony growths take time to develop — usually over months or years due to strain and stress. Most people who get heel spurs don’t even know they’re there until they notice pain.
What Can Cause a Heel Spur?
Here are some of the most common risk factors and causes of heel spurs:
- Being a runner or sprinter: The repeated force to the bottom of your foot from running can cause enough stress for heel spurs to grow over time.
- Wearing unsupportive shoes: Shoes without proper support can also create unnecessary stress on your feet and prompt heel spur growth.
- Being overweight or obese: Extra weight can put pressure on the bottom of your feet that can cause heel spurs to develop.
So, Is Foot Massage Good for Heel Spurs?
You probably know that massage is good for relaxing and relieving tension. But can massage help heel spurs?
In many ways, yes. Massage therapy can be beneficial for kneading away pain and soothing tense muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Keep in mind that massage can’t cure your heel spur. Instead, it can be a useful way to help you decrease the pain and inflammation that comes along with it.
Massage and Heel Pain Research
Massage is known to be pain-relieving, and there’s even some promising research showing that it may ease heel pain specifically.
One 2013 study found that deep massage to the calf muscles combined with light stretching was able to help relieve heel pain in patients with plantar fasciitis. A newer case report from 2021 also found that trigger point deep tissue massage was able to help a patient with plantar fasciitis find some relief from her discomfort.
How to Massage a Heel Spur
So, how can you massage a heel spur?
There are a few methods you can try — including self-massage, visiting a massage therapist, or even using heel spur massage tools. It’s important to note that you should not attempt to massage a heel spur without checking with your doctor ahead of time. And, of course, avoid any techniques that cause you pain.
Here’s a short breakdown of three different heel spur massage methods:
1. The Hands-On Technique
The first and most common technique is a simple self-foot massage using your own hands:
- Create friction by moving your thumbs in circles along your foot’s arch. Knead the tension out of your ligaments and muscles using light to medium pressure, from your heel to toes.
- Run your thumbs lengthwise along the plantar fascia (aka the big ligament along the arch of your foot), using as much pressure as is comfortable.
- Repeat these gentle techniques for up to several minutes at a time.
2. Using a Massage Ball
A massage ball is another easy and convenient way to relieve heel pain.
Simply roll your foot over a massage ball for a few minutes per session (or even use a tennis ball if you have one on hand.)
3. Using a Foot Massager for Heel Spurs
The MedMassager MMF07 is a foot massage machine that may help you decrease the pain and tension that comes with heel spurs.
We recommend using it by following these steps:
- Start the MedMassager at the lowest setting and place your feet flat on the device.
- After one or two minutes, slowly turn up the intensity until it reaches a level that you feel most comfortable with.
- Use for up to ten minutes per session.
The Bottom Line
Massage is a powerful way to release tension and ease pain in your foot and heel. And while it can’t cure or completely heal heel spurs, it can be an effective and comforting therapy to add to your routine.
To try massage for heel spurs at home, you can use your own hands or a massage ball with gentle pressure. Or, you can try a device like the MedMassager, which has an arch-massaging bar and 11 different speed options for personalized relief.